Father, Heal Your World… Start With ME.

Psalm 51:10 NLT

“Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a loyal spirit within me.”

Let me start by saying that I did not grow up with
money.  I have never known what it’s like
to have money (other than money to pay bills and just barely get by).

When I was a kid my parents moved us from a little
hole-in-the-wall town in Oklahoma to Tennessee to provide a better life for
us.  (There were not many job
opportunities in Healdton, Oklahoma.)

I lived in a trailer until I was 18 years old.  I remember as a child feeling not good enough
because my family lived in a trailer but I didn’t want that to stop me so I
just kind of sucked it up and went on with life.  When I was in school the bus would pick us up
and drop us off in front of our driveway so the kids could see that we clearly
lived in a trailer.

When I was in 4th grade I had a friend who lived
in a huge, brick house in a subdivision.
She wore GAP clothing and had the white Keds shoes … you know, the ones
that actually have the blue rectangle on the back?  Yeah… I had the Payless or Walmart white
shoes.  We just couldn’t afford $20.00
for a pair of Keds when my mom could get them at Walmart for $10.00 or
less.  I loved this friend.  I guess I envied her life a little.  I remember I use to come home after staying
the night with her and I would try to rearrange my room and redecorate to make
my tiny room seem a little more like hers.
One day I asked this friend to come over to my house and play for a
bit.  I could hear her talking to her dad
while we were on the phone and she asked him could she come over to which he
replied, “Yes.”  I then heard her put her
hand over the phone and say “Are you sure? … Because she lives in a trailer.”  I hung up on her and cried.

My heart was broken.
I was being judged because I didn’t have as much as her.  I realized then that people will look down on
you for what you don’t have.  Even typing
about it now makes me feel sad because this is how the world is… this is how I
am….  It disgusts me.

This past year has been….. ummmm…..  challenging.
Job, jobless, job again, moving, depression, doctors, etc. It’s been
pretty rough.

When we moved to the apartment we are in now I was ill.  Not only was I suffering from depression but
I hated the apartment.  It was old, there
were a lot of people living there that didn’t look nice (clothes, cars,
appearance), and it was considered “Ghetto” by others in Franklin.  I remember driving through the complex one
day and seeing a woman walking down the street and looking at her in disgusts
and thinking “Ugh! I do NOT belong over here.”
Wow…  I hate to admit it, I hate
to type that out here for you to read but I want to be transparent with
you.  I was instantly convicted.  I consider myself a good person and I know that God totally loves me and knows my heart – that’s just it though, He knows my heart… He knows what doesn’t belong there.

Who do I think I am? Who am I to judge that woman walking
down the street?  Why is she any less
than me?  Because her hair is not as well
put together? Because she is dressed in skinny jeans with a shirt that is too tight?  What does that matter?  How does that affect me at all? Who am I to
judge this woman and feel grossed out by her?
I hit my knees when I got home and begged God to pull that ugliness out by
the roots. God is definitely working on me.

You know me, I have to give a LONG intro before I get to the
point of my blog, haha!  The Contributor –
you’ve seen the people standing on the side of the street
selling newspapers, right?  I remember
when I first saw them in Cool Springs and I was annoyed.  I would give a dollar here and there but for
the most part I just didn’t like the fact that when I pull up to a red light
there is a person standing next to my car who is seeking money.

I work in Nashville and I get off at the Harding Place exit
from 65N Mon – Fri.  There is a guy
selling The Contributor at the exit.  One
day as I was digging through my purse to find a dollar I noticed something sweet
about him.  He waves and smiles even when
cars are just passing him by and it’s sincere… as if there is more to him than
just wanting a dollar or two.  I handed
him my dollar, took the paper, wished him well, and drove off. As I was driving
I saw a sign that the vendor had posted that said “Brand New Day, Never Been
Used!” He has a few signs sitting out and they are hope filled signs.  This man is standing on the side of the
street, rain or shine, hot or cold, and he’s making a living… with a smile on
his face.  I pondered this on my way to
work.

On my lunch break
that day I actually opened the paper and read through it.  I was moved.
These articles are amazing! Some of the articles rip your heart right
out of you.  I guess I have been one of
those people who want to ignore what is really going on right here in our own
back yard.  I learned also that this IS a
job for the vendors who are selling the newspapers.  Just like you and I go to work every day to
make a living, so do they… they sell newspapers on the side of the street to
make a living.  That’s honorable to
me.

Every day as I’m sitting on the exit at Harding Place I
either give a dollar to the vendor (if I have cash on me) or I pray for
him.  There are days I wish I could pull
my car over to the side and just sit and hang with him… I’m sure I could learn
a lot from him.  I bet he is so anchored
to our Heavenly Father and doesn’t care what anyone thinks! I want that…  I want to be more like that.

Yesterday as  I was
sitting at the exit, I rolled down my window with excitement and waved my
dollar at him.  The October issue just
came out and I couldn’t wait to read it!
As he approached my car we talked a minute and he told me that on page 8
he wrote an article and it’s for me.  I
thanked him and told him I would surely read it.  We smiled at each other and I drove
away.

Here is a section from John Giffing, the Harding-Place-Exit-Vendor’s
article:

“Being a vendor for The Contributor puts much-needed money
in my pocket, but it also puts me in touch with the daily greetings, the waves,
the God-bless-you’s from commuters coming off I-65.  Even though it’s impossible, I wish as a vendor
that I could know who these people are handing me the $1.00 + tip, the gift
bags and snacks, the water bottles, the hand-written prayers.  It’s overwhelming to receive so much
compassion.  God bless all of you.  You have my sincere gratitude.” – John Hope
Giffing | Formerly Homeless Writer

John Giffing is a person.
I am no better than him.  If
anything, he’s probably better than me.
This man loves the Lord, serves Him, and is showing the heart of Jesus
to strangers.  He holds his head high and
even if you pass him up without showing him any attention, he still smiles and
waves at you.  He doesn’t look defeated
by his outward appearance because he’s NOT defeated.  John Giffiing has victory.

My heart is so moved by this man every time I see him.  He’s actually one of the highlights of my
mornings. I thought today “That is so my Father… teaching me through a man that
is less fortunate”… but is he really less fortunate? I don’t think John Giffing
is the less fortunate one.  I think John
Giffing “gets it”.  I am so blessed by
him.

Awake my soul,

April Poynter

Proverbs 14:31

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind
to the needy honors God.

Proverbs 21:13

If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be
answered.

Proverbs 28:27

He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them
receives many curses.

Luke 14:13-14

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the
blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be
repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Hebrews 13:2

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have
entertained angels without
knowing it.

1 John 3:17-18

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity
on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with
words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

http://thecontributor.org/main/ Please support The Contributor if you are able.  You are surely storing up treasures in Heaven.

Let Us Throw Off EVERYTHING That Hinders

1
Corinthians 6:19-20

19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy
Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20
you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Philippians 3:18-19

18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even
with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their
stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.

In July of this year I had dinner with a friend.  I hadn’t seen her in probably a year or so
and she looked FANTASTIC.  She had really
gotten into Zumba and had lost a lot of weight.
Her confidence was soaring and she looked amazing.  Seeing her immediately sparked something in
me.  I knew that ‘feeling’ and I wanted
to experience that ‘feeling’.

In September of 2008, after having Trinity in November of
2007, I went on a yearlong weight loss challenge to lose ALL of the baby weight
and to get healthy.  I committed this
goal to God and began eating better (in moderation) and running.  Within 8 months I had lost ALL of the baby
weight plus an additional ten pounds.

I have kept the weight off but loosened up a lot after
reaching my goal.  A lot of the tools of
my weight loss challenge stuck with me so I’d say I did make a life style
change all together.

In March 2011 I began suffering from anxiety and
depression.  One of the many side effects
of this disease is loss of appetite (or at least for me).  I would literally be sick almost all day long
and the thought of food made me want to puke.
I’m pretty sure I lived on saltine crackers for four months.  Sometimes in the late evening I would get my
appetite and binge on every carb in site – just to wake up and repeat the
process again the next day.

During those four months I lost about 15-20 pounds in a very
unhealthy way.  I felt weak, I looked
fragile, and I did not feel good about myself at all.

In July of this year the depression subsided.  I went to lunch with my friend (as I stated
earlier) and seeing her sparked something in me.  After our dinner I shared how awesome my
friend looked with my husband, Tony, and told him I want that!  I’m ready to do this! So we started a
journey.

I remember the first time we went for a jog at the
park.  I was TERRIFIED! Put yourself in
the shoes of a depressed person – you’re paralyzed in fear ALL THE TIME.  To go to the park and jog was so scary.  I kept hearing thoughts in my head “You’re
going to die”, “You’re getting too far away from the car”, “You can’t breathe…
you’re going to die”, “You’re not going to stick with this.” – The enemy set
out on a whole new approach to his attack on me.  I remember running and arguing with the
thoughts and shouting out to God “Shut him up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! …. Lord, I
commit this to you and if I die while I’m jogging… at least I’ll die while I
was doing something pleasing to you.”
The voice shut up and I ran.

The first few weeks were pretty hard.  Not so much that I was out of shape or
hurting but the thoughts in my head were so overwhelming.  One day I was jogging with Tony, listening to
my MP3 player and a snap shot of a document I read about depression popped in
my head.  During my journey with
depression I had researched and read all about depression/ anxiety and continuously
listed would be something to the effect of “Change your diet and exercise”.  I pulled my earphones out of my ears and
turned to Tony and said “Do you know how hard it is to get up and MOVE when you’re
depressed or trembling in fear from anxiety? … It’s not that you can’t
physically do it but you just CAN’T … your brain won’t let you.  You are literally paralyzed but now that I am
out here running and have been for a couple of weeks, that overwhelming voice
of the enemy is slowly being silenced.
When I leave from our jog I feel good.
I feel empowered.  I realize that
I am leaning on God for every step that I take and He (God) gets me through
it.  We accomplish it together and I feel
great.  If the enemy can get us in a
state of believing his lies we will become paralyzed with fear, depression,
anxiety, whatever he throws at us and we take on … and we shut down mentally,
physically, spiritually, emotionally.
When you read about depression exercise and diet change are ALWAYS
listed as a way to help you feel better and I see why! Changing your diet and
getting exercise breaks bondage.”

You might read this and say “Duh!” but it was quite a breakthrough
for me.

The next day Tony had a breakthrough moment.  He had this total revelation about how the enemy
uses food as bondage.  EVERYTHING revolves
around food.  Fellowship, parties,
holidays, etc.  Pretty much every social
gathering involves food.  Food makes us
happy!  Having a bad day at work?  “Ugh… I need carbs! Mashed potatoes,
meatloaf, rolls, corn, and a double fudge chocolate brownie or two… or three!”  It’s a cold, rainy day – “Mmmmm…. I need
something warm and filling! Lasagna or a creamy soup and bread, lots of it!”  Ever notice that whenever you’re trying to
take control of your diet and exercise life it seems like people are offering
to take you to dinner (their treat) or people at the office are all of a sudden
bringing in your favorite pastries from Panera Bread or surprising you with an
Iced Mocha Frappuccino with extra whipped cream and extra chocolate drizzle?!?!  This never fails!

So what point am I trying to make here?  We are weak.
We have no self-control.  This is
very true about us and our own strength … BUT GOD… We can do ALL things through
Christ who strengthens us.  Does God not
care about your weight loss goals or your overall health? Ummm… absolutely, He
cares!  He cares about every intricate
detail of our lives.  God actually
reveals so much spiritual truth through my approach to a healthier
lifestyle.  Example – when I’m running a
mile – the run is pretty steady and easy until I get to the home stretch.  It seems the closer I get to the goal the
harder it becomes mentally and physically.
Seeing the finish line from a distance wears me out.  Is that not our spiritual walk?  When God is walking us through a valley,
knowing the finish line for that particular race is just around the corner, the
harder it gets but then once we resolve to hang in there and cross that finish
line we feel AWESOME!

Since July of this year I have lost 15 healthy pounds. [Side
note – once the depression subsided I started eating again and gained a fair
amount of weight since my appetite had returned].  I feel amazing!  I have gone from a size 11 jean to a size
8.  I am watching my body transform right
in front of my eyes.  Every morning I
wake up and recommit my body to my Heavenly Father and I ask Him to give me HIS
strength to make it through another day of discipline with food and hard
training.  He answers my prayer.

I have a couple of Jillian Michaels’ workout videos at home
and at the end of one of her videos (after she has tried to kill you) she says
something like “You should be proud of yourself for what you just
accomplished.  When you can have the
discipline to change your body, it changes every facet of your life.”  So true!

Why do we stare in awe of someone who walks by with a rockin’
body? Because it’s NOT the norm…  we
marvel at them because they have accomplished something our hearts long for but
we can’t seem to accomplish.  Why do we sabotage
a friend, coworker, or spouse when they decide to get their body in shape and
make better food decisions?  Misery loves
company.  Tony says I sabotaged him a few
years back when he was making great progress in his healthy lifestyle journey…
ummm… HELLLLLLLO?!?!? I was pregnant!!!!!!! Haha!  You can’t go on a healthy lifestyle challenge
when your wife is pregnant with her FIRST child!  J

All jokes aside, don’t forget that we are engaged in
spiritual warfare.  The Devil’s purpose
it to steal, kill, and destroy.  Does
this not apply to your eating and exercise life?  Absolutely, it does.

Of course this blog is not to cause any guilt or
condemnation.  I know that God takes us
all through different journeys in different seasons but if you are struggling
with weight, image issues, or just wanting to start a better lifestyle for
yourself and/or your family I would encourage you to hit your knees before you
do anything else.  Ask God to renew your
mind and dedicate this journey to Him.
Then seek advice on how to appropriately begin your journey.  I can tell you it’s going to take TIME.  Crash diets don’t work.  Spend some time with the Lord; ask for His
direction but remember your plan may not look like someone else’s plan but He
will not fail you.

Keep shining,

April

A Soul Escaping

Hey brothers and sisters!

I have to express this new found freedom to you!  Neil Anderson spoke at my church on September
10th about Freedom from Fear.
It was such a great, eye opening teaching!

Do you ever think about how often we fear what people think
of us? If you don’t have this problem, I envy you.  Not really, just am very happy for you that
you do not struggle with the fear of man.
Before I was a Christian I guess I can say I really didn’t care what
people thought.  I was tough and if you
had a problem with me… well, I’d probably hunt you down and kick your butt – or
at least threaten you in some way or another after cussing you out.  But for some reason once I gave my heart to
Jesus I guess I got confused and went from one end of the spectrum to the total
opposite end.

I always felt if I hurt someone’s feelings or messed up then
I would represent God in a wrong way and could cause someone’s walk to become
hindered therefore, I have let people rip me apart, stomp on me, and tell me
their opinions about me that are completely hurtful and not from a place of
love.

I have been afraid.  I
have been afraid of what other people think about me.

This is a place of bondage that has suffocated me for YEARS!
Not worthy, not good enough, not “Christian” enough, not smart enough and the
list goes on and on.  All lies might I
add.

Have I believed those lies? Absolutely.  Which lead to a stunt in my walk and growth
and kept me in bondage.

Do I still believe those lies? NOPE. Not anymore.  God has shined light into darkness.  I feel like He knocked on the door of my soul
and said “Come out, April.  Reach out for
My hand and let Me lead you into the light where you belong.” And as I reached
out for Him, He removed the lies… years of filth… and made me new.

I love people but I can’t please all people … and I don’t
have to.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.

My soul has escaped.

 

In Freedom,

April

Pray Without Ceasing

Hey friends!

It has been a while since I have written.  Life has been very interesting to say the
least.  I can tell you that the
depression and anxiety are GONE.  Praise
JESUS!

God has shown me so many areas of my life where I had let
fear take over.  Not good.  Even this past Sunday I was convicted about
how I have let the ‘fear of man’ control my life for YEARS.  I had no clue.  Isn’t that interesting how God doesn’t
overload us with everything at once? Haha!
I would be a hot mess if He did.

After my realization on Sunday I was thinking “Wow,
God!  I really had no clue! Thank you for
showing me now… but I could have avoided so much heartache if You had shown me
this FOREVER ago!” But then I was reminded that God knows exactly what He’s
doing.  I don’t think it’s that God hasn’t
tried to tell me or show me this MANY times before… I think it’s that I wasn’t
listening.

I guess I want this blog to go in the direction of how
effective prayer is … yet, we don’t use it.

On Sunday a friend of mine prayed with me over a VERY hard
place in my life, that ‘broken record’ place… where you keep experiencing
heartache but you can’t figure out why you keep returning to that place…  Well, she prayed a specific prayer at church
with me that God would reveal what that ‘thing’ is that keeps me hooked and
that I would leave that place a changed person.
During the service God revealed the hook that had me and I left a
changed person.

Yesterday an acquaintance
of mine told me that she had been praying for me back when I lost my job at
Sommet Group.  She prayed a specific
prayer for me over my finances and work life – I KNOW that God heard her
prayers (along with others who were praying for me).  I think God allowed me and her to make
contact and for her to tell me she prayed for me as a reminder that He is
listening.

As I was driving home I called my husband, Tony, and talked
about prayer.  I said “How can we believe
God,  know how effective prayer is and
NOT pray ALL THE TIME – myself included.
If we REALLY believed and could take a small peek into the spiritual
realm around us we would, like Paul said, pray without ceasing.  I think we are so stuck in the mindset that
we have to SEE in order to believe and so we fail to pray.

Hebrews 11:1-3 says Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of
what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that
what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

We have to
stop being so natural minded.  I have to
stop being so natural minded.

God is
listening.  Are you praying?

If not, I
encourage you to start… now.  If you are
but not a lot, I encourage you to get into the flow of constantly talking with
the Lord.  If you are ALL THE TIME – that’s
fantastic and I bet you see great fruit in your life and in the lives around
you.

My
challenge lately has been praying for those who drive me LOCO! Haha!  I have been asking God to help me see them as
He sees them (advice from my sweet friend, Sarah).  I have also been lifting them up to Him –
asking Him to bless them in specific ways (and really meaning it in my
heart).  God has shown me that when
people are driving me nuts it’s usually not THEM that are the problem… it’s something
in ME that God is working out.  He has
also shown me that there are people who are potentially dangerous – to guard my
heart and set safe boundaries but to love them from a distance.

Our fight
is NOT against flesh and blood – I’m constantly being reminded that it’s never
anything personal against me.  Darkness
drowns in light – If you were a demon don’t you think that would piss you
off?  Spiritual warfare – unseen but VERY
real.

Are you
fighting with worldly weapons or spiritual weapons?

Lots of
pondering.  :o)

 

Ephesians
6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers
and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all
the saints.

 

Running,

April